At least 10 UPDF engineers will this year head to Hebei Province in China for a special three-month training in railway construction, according to an August 15 statement by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), the constructors of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
This followed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between CHEC, which will sponsor the training, and National Enterprise Corporation (NEC).
NEC is the commercial arm of the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) and was established in 1989 by an Act of Parliament.
Its investments and activities are in agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare services, among others.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU, CHEC's country representative Kuang Zhanying, said they are happy to launch this next phase of the SGR project with NEC.
"The SGR is going to be one of the most important infrastructure projects in Uganda and East Africa and it is crucial that Ugandans are involved in the process. We will be very pleased to welcome the 10 Ugandan engineers to China and will extend to them the same warmth and hospitality we have received from the Ugandan people," Kuang said.
In the MoU, CHEC also agreed to cooperate with NEC/UPDF on a number of other projects.
"CHEC will also be partnering with NEC/UPDF to develop a polytechnic institute at Rubongi in Tororo. CHEC will supply equipment for the polytechnic, which, upon completion, will become a state-of-the-art institution to train Ugandan engineers and technicians," the statement reads in part.
The Chinese firm explained that the polytechnic institute will specialize in all aspects of engineering and infrastructure construction, including operations and management of projects.
Additionally, the firm agreed to procure explosives for the construction of SGR exclusively from NEC on condition that they are of the quality and quantity required.
"CHEC will also hire engineers and technicians from the NEC, subject to the fulfillment of the skills requirements provided by CHEC," the statement further reads.